The Islamic Holy month of Ramadan is here and as a meeting professional, if you have upcoming events, you should be aware some of your attendees may be fasting this month. Ramadan is observed by Muslims all over the world; during this time they fast from dawn to sunset. This means they refrain from any food and drink during those hours.

Every year, Ramadan falls on a different date according to the lunar calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. These 12 months add up to approximately 354 days—11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, each year, the lunar calendar moves backward by 11 days. This year, Ramadan began on May 6 and will last for either 29 or 30 days.

MoreHow to Make International Attendees Feel Welcome

While you cannot reschedule an event during this month, all you need to do is make a few accommodations during your meeting for attendees observing fasts. This will help you stand out as a culturally competent company.

  • If your meeting includes physical team building activities, try scheduling it at the beginning of the day when all your attendees’ energy levels are high.
  • Be mindful of where you place food at the meeting venue. If possible, serve all your meals in a different hall so those fasting don’t have to be around food while they cannot eat.
  • Do not serve strong-smelling foods like popcorn, fish, bacon, or spices like garlic. This can be very distracting for attendees.
  • Do not hold working lunches. These are awkward for those observing Ramadan.
  • Be aware of the different prayer times and try to schedule regular breaks at the event based on those timings.
  • Provide a prayer room close to the meeting room at the venue and inform your attendees of its availability. Since Muslims around the world pray in the direction of Mecca, try indicating the direction for prayer in the prayer room.
  • Since those observing fast can only eat after sunset, schedule dinner service accordingly so all attendees can enjoy a meal together. Include healthy salads and protein-rich food.
  • It is Islamic tradition to break a fast with dates and water. So make sure you have them on your menu as well.